Words: Stuart Gomez
Photography: Bart Jones
When Reese Salken moved to California back in 2013, he was motivated by something other than breaking into the industry. Quitting college and relocating from Virginia is a drastic decision, but one that he looks back on as a moment of truth.
Reese grew up in Yorktown, and has been skating for most of his life. At ten, he started following a crew of badass little kids around his neighborhood. “They all skated,” Reese says, “and I was like, That’s what’s up.”
A natural born prankster, Reese would engage in hijinx to get a little thrill; classic stuff like wiping boogers and farting in a full, hot van. But at thirteen, he outdid himself by spreading his butt cheeks on his aunt’s lunch, a sandwich that she left unattended at her own peril. By this point in his life, Reese already knew that he needed footage, or it didn’t happen. So, he filmed it. When his aunt saw the clip of Reese’s buns on her sando, she laughed so hard she pissed her pants.
“I was always doing little mischievous shit,” Reese says. “But looking back it’s like, Dude what are you doing?”
Reese’s crew in Virginia, “Pseudo Visions,” was spearheaded by the filmer Grant Forbes. Grant was the driving force behind the group’s travels up and down the East Coast, getting an astonishing number of clips. Grant released the videos Midnight On The Run in 2010 and Shades Away in 2012, featuring footage of Reese in his mid-teens.
In late 2012, Grant passed away. The shock of the news changed everything.
Reese lived with Grant and was very close with him. “Grant was somebody who was really inspiring to me,“ Reese says. “He was always pushing me with skating; we would film all the time.”
Having just lost his friend, and miserable in his first year of college, Reese got the much-needed push to make his life-altering move to California. Reese decided that, in honor of Grant, he would come to Cali to pursue skating and try to make something positive out of a tragic situation.
After initially moving to L.A. for a few months, Reese made the inevitable migration to Long Beach. (“It’s more laidback than L.A. but there’s still a lot of stuff going on,” he says.) He hooked up with Adam Mills, the Birdhouse TM, and last year Reese joined the team while recovering from knee surgery.
For Reese, joining Birdhouse is basically like joining his friends who he’s already skating with on a daily basis. He says, “It’s been so sick. Just natural and fun; those are my dogs!”
If you compare Reese’s footage from the Pseudo Visions days to his California move (and there’s a lot), you’ll notice an invigorating shift. Wild-eyed and animated, Reese’s Pseudo Visions skating has the air of a kid who is discovering the joys of learning tricks for the first time. The atmosphere of day-long skate seshes, giddily riding away from slightly sloppy makes; watching these videos are a time capsule of Reese at an important formative point. Then, once he touched down in California, his skating seemed to become more determined and aggressive. More grown up.
Now 23 years old, you’ll occasionally catch a look in Reese’s eyes when he skates that communicates intensity, as if he’s motivated by something other than just getting the clip. Like he’s not just doing it for himself.
But traces of that mischievous thirteen-year-old are still evident when speaking with him, whether he’s talking about how much he loves the process of filming or shooting a photo (“I really am too obsessed with it, I guess!”), or how he spent a private day with an action movie star’s daughter (“Yeah, that’s hijinx”), Reese is someone to look out for. And if you see him coming, hide your sandwich.